We just finished a 2-h0ur boat trip we booked through our hotel in Chau Doc. The tour took us to the floating houses and the fish farms. It was a marvel how an entire community of floating houses and business establishments were built. There was even a floating gas station.
We went to a house where we threw some fish food to a hole on the floor. Suddenly the water came alive with really large fish jumping to eat the pellets. They made so much racket that water was spraying all over. It was really fun.
We disembarked at a village where the Cham people live. Unlike the Vietnamese, the Chams are a minority people who practice Islam. We walked through wooden plank bridges and arrived at a small community. I got myself a colorful hat and some traditional fabric. Our boat driver/guide pointed us a small path that led to the main street where the mosque was. Children selling small cakes and waffles trailed us and kept chanting a well-rehearsed sales pitch in English that urged us to buy the cakes for only 6 for a dollar so they could have money as they were poor. A small sign said,” Do not buy cakes from the children. You may be colic if you eat it.” Enough said.
Walking through the plank bridge, n seemed like a different world. Old men peered from the windows of wooden houses on stilts. Precarious bamboo bridges linked the houses to one another. Some men wore sarongs and women had head scarves. A small shop by the mosque was also selling some fabric. We met a young good-looking guy who help acted as interpreter for me as the middle-aged women at the shop spoke no English. Turns out, the guy lived there and was from Seattle, WA where he was born and grew up. He was a Cham and was home for vacation. He hoped to make it to the Philippines someday as he heard a lot about it from some Filipinos in Seattle.
Back to the river, we went to some canals lined with houses on very tall stilts. I figured they did this so when the river swells up during the wet season, they still remain dry. The driver said that they were from Cambodia. We also saw a couple of pretty pagodas.
I really liked this boat tour, though short, because we really got a glimpse of how people lived along the Mekong. There were boat houses, small boats selling pho, and even one that was selling clothes!
Civilizations were built along rivers. Meandering along the Mekong, I couldn’t help but be amazed on how the river has given and nurtured so much life.